(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp. posted the highest profit in two years as prices for commodities and chemicals surged amid strong consumer demand for plastics.
Exxon posted adjusted earnings of $1.10 a share in the second-quarter, the highest in more than two years and above the 97-cent average estimated among analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Chemical profits were the highest on record.
The oil titan’s performance cements its financial recovery from a damaging two-year period in which it burned through nearly $28 billion in cash, borrowed heavily to fund the S&P 500’s third-largest dividend, and endured the pandemic-driven shutdown of economies around the world. After slashing capital spending and laying off 14,000 employees, Exxon has positioned itself to reap the rewards that come from this year’s recovery in demand for motor fuels and petrochemicals.
It’s a much-needed lift for Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods, who lost a proxy battle to activist investor Engine No. 1 earlier this year. Exxon was forced to replace a quarter of its board with candidates pledging to improve financial returns and the company’s climate strategy. Separately, Woods made a public apology after Greenpeace secretly filmed a lobbyist saying some of Exxon’s climate commitments were disingenuous.
While investors will cheer Exxon’s improved cash flows, the company has frozen its dividend and is unlikely to follow rivals Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE in reinstating share buybacks. Earlier Friday, Chevron outperformed expectations and investors rewarded the driller by boosting the stock price by more than 2%.
Woods’ immediate goal is to use extra cash to repair the balance sheet after net debt increased by nearly 40% to a record $68 billion in 2020.
CEO Woods and Senior Vice President Jack Williams, whose responsibilities include chemicals, are scheduled to speak with analysts during on a conference call beginning at 9:30 a.m. New York time.
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